Frederick Douglass is significant as the most prominent black abolitionist of the time before the Civil War. Douglass was himself an escaped slave who then became a major figure in the abolitionist movement.
Although his exact date of birth is not know, Douglass believed that he was born in February 1817. He was born a slave in Maryland. In 1838, Douglass escaped from slavery. He did so by borrowing papers from a free black man and simply getting on a train and going to New York.
After escaping from slavery, Douglass ended up as an abolitionist speaker. This career started when he met William Lloyd Garrison in 1841. Garrison was the major figure in the abolitionist movement at the time.
Frederick Douglass, then, is significant as the most important African-American figure in the abolitionist movement.